Teen prodigy wows pollies
FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD indigenous artist Chern'ee Sutton has been hailed a "prodigy" and an "artist of reconciliation" during a week-long art exhibition at Brisbane's Parliament House.
The Bundaberg teenager travelled to Brisbane on Sunday of last week, with 17 of her finest paintings in tow, including a spectacular piece that she donated to Speaker John Mickel "on behalf of all Australians".
Mr Mickel said he and others were in disbelief that Chern'ee, who had only been painting for a little over a year, was capable of creating such exquisite pieces.
"It is breathtaking in its brilliance. You'd almost say she's a prodigy," he said.
"She is quite an amazing talent."
Mr Mickel recalled his time as trade minister, where he had met a group of indigenous artists in Cape York whose artwork was displayed in a New York art gallery.
"Here is someone on her own, who I think in time will get that sort of stage," he said.
"Kepnock High School should just put her in cotton wool and don't let go of her."
The speaker said he also overheard Chern'ee being described as "the artist of reconciliation" - a compliment the humble teenager has taken with pride.
"I feel highly honoured to think that my art will make a difference towards reconciliation and bring two cultures closer together through understanding and acceptance of each other," Chern'ee said.
"I paint from my heart and soul and am glad that people from different cultures can see the messages I bring."
The teenager said the curator from the Gallery of Modern Art and the owner of Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery in Brisbane were also impressed by the exhibition.
Chern'ee said her two favourite moments of the whirlwind trip was having her painting, Ajarku Maru, accepted by Mr Mickel to hang in Parliament House, and being treated "like royalty" after dining in the parliamentary dining room.
"My dad is a chef, but it was the best meal I have ever eaten," she said.
"She got to eat off gold-rimmed plates," mum Judi added.
Seven of Chern'ee's paintings were sold during the exhibition, and the remaining ones can be bought at the Gidji indigenous art shop in Hinkler Central.